An Investigation of User Comments on Facebook Pages of Trinidad and Tobago’s Indian Music Format Radio Stations
Shaheed Nick Mohammed & Avinash Thombre
To cite this article: Shaheed Nick Mohammed & Avinash Thombre (2017) An Investigation of User Comments on Facebook Pages of Trinidad and Tobago’s Indian Music Format Radio Stations, Journal of Radio & Audio Media, 24:1, 111-129, DOI: 10.1080/19376529.2016.1252374
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/19376529.2016.1252374
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An Investigation of User Comments on Facebook Pages of Trinidad and Tobago’s Indian Music Format Radio Stations
Shaheed Nick Mohammed and Avinash Thombre
Starting in the 1990s, the Caribbean two-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago witnessed the establishment of several Indian-music format radio stations, most of which now stream their content on the World Wide Web or otherwise make their content available beyond the range of their terrestrial radio transmitters. The convergence of traditional terrestrial radio with audio streaming technol- ogy combined with the spread of high speed broadband connections has expanded the audience of a typical radio station from a few kilometers to a globally dispersed set of listeners who often include those physically displaced from their native cultural programming. The present investigation examines the Facebook comments of domestic and foreign listeners to Indian-music format radio stations from the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
This work explores the dynamics of the evolution of a local, specialized, and parochial medium into an international system of information dissemination as well as community-building and maintenance. The insights sought here attempt to make a small contribution to a larger understanding of the internationalization of local media, and the use of social and other digital media in global processes of commu- nity and identity. This particular combination of social and mass media also presents the opportunity to examine far flung audience members’ responses to and interaction with local-turned-global mass media. These explorations are important because they have the potential to improve our understanding of the evolution of traditionally local media into global services and the roles of such media in modern (globalized) group identity processes.
Shaheed Nick Mohammed (Ph.D., University of New Mexico) is an associate professor of Communication at Penn State Altoona, Altoona, Pennsylvania.
Avinash Thombre (Ph.D., University of New Mexico) is an associate professor of Speech Communication at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Little Rock, Arkansas. His areas of interest include health commu- nication, new technologies, and intercultural communication.
© 2017 Broadcast Education Association Journal of Radio & Audio Media 24(1), 2017, pp. 111–129 DOI: 10.1080/19376529.2016.1252374 ISSN: 1937-6529 print/1937-6537 online
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The small two-island nation officially known as the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago has a population of approximately 1.2 million (Central Statistical Office of Trinidad and Tobago, 2014) and lies at the southern end of the Caribbean archipe- lago. Its two main population groups are descendants of African slaves and descen- dants of Indian indentured laborers (these two comprising close to 90% of the total population), along with descendants of European settlers and various other small groups such as Arab and Chinese immigrants (Eriksen, 1991; Wilson, 2012) and small numbers of the indigenous Caribs (NALIS, 2016). The country gained political independence from Great Britain in 1962 with a legacy of ethnic relations among its main groups defined by a history of slavery, indentureship, and colonialism. Wilson (2012, p. 126) has identified the two main (and often competing) cultural compo- nents in terms of Indian and Creole “folklores,” writing that:
The Creole folklore is a mixture of African, Spanish, French, and English cultures….The Creole culture is seemingly shared by Blacks, local Whites… and the mixed populations. The East Indian folklores are those inherited from the indentured workers from Southeast Asia (India and Pakistan), specifically the Hindu and Muslim religions and cultures.
After the abolition of slavery, British plantation owners in Trinidad were left with a labor shortage since those liberated from the plantations were unwilling to return as paid labor. Munasinghe (2001, p. 8) has noted that:
Although they phrased their predicament as a “labor shortage,” the planters’ real concern was the procurement of a cheap and easily manageable labor force—the freed former slaves could not and would not satisfy this need. (Italics in original).
To address this labor shortage, the British brought laborers from Portugal, then China, and, when these attempts failed to provide a suitable working population, settled on India as a source of workers (Look-Lai, 1993) with the largest numbers from the subcontinent shipped to Guyana (238,960); and Trinidad (143,939) from 1838 to 1917 (Roopnarine, 2006; Tinker & Birbalsingh, 1989; Wilson, 2012). Roopnarine (2009, p. 91) has emphasized the importance of global forces in the process of Indian migration to the region and, while arguing that resistance would eventually be a factor in the forging of their identity, still has characterized a lack of instrumentality on the part of those transported, writing that:
The juggernaut of Western imperialism, world capitalism, colonialism, Social Darwinism, inter alia, was responsible for the importation of Indian indentured laborers to the Caribbean…. Indian laborers had little or no independent powers of their own in the process that brought them to the Caribbean.
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Indian laborers were contracted under a scheme which specified indentureship for a stipulated period, after which they were to be sent back to India. However, authorities often broke the promise of return passage (Roopnarine, 2009; Singh, 1974). Many Indians were thus unable to leave the Caribbean after their period of service and were forced to settle there; others accepted land or money to stay at times when such inducements were offered in lieu of return passage (Samaroo, 1987; Tinker & Birbalsingh, 1989). From these beginnings, an Indian diaspora has existed and thrived in Trinidad and Tobago (though primarily in the much larger island, Trinidad), main- taining fragmented aspects of culture mixed from a variety of Indian subcultures.
Some scholars have argued that these indentured laborers showed little interest in the society to which they were transplanted particularly during the earliest phases of the indentureship system (Wilson, 2012). Others have noted that even when they adopted the new homeland either from necessity or choice, they were initially isolated for cultural and linguistic reasons and perceived as a marginalized group (Eriksen, 1991) that only over time began any kind of integration into national life. Singh (1987) argued that: “By the time when almost half of the Indian population were Trinidad born, the East Indians began to assert themselves so as to secure a rightful place in their adopted country” (p. iii).
However, such assertions have never been without resistance and contention. Wilson (2012, p. 126), for example, has argued that the struggle between the two main ethno-cultural groups (often politi- cized along racial lines) is one that is predicated, at least in part, on the struggle of cultural forms in which “competing folklores are translated and superimposed onto the political arena,” writing that:
Ethnopolitics prevails in Trinidad and Tobago because of a struggle for cultural recognition and respect. The dominance of the Creole cultural forms and the late development of the Indian folklores at the national level have left Indo- Trinidadians feeling that the national identity of the country marginalizes them even though they account for 40 percent of the population.
Samaroo (1987) has held that the Indo-Trinidadian community’s links with India have been strong and continuous since indentureship and others (e.g., Malik, 1971) have emphasized the role that mass media has played in maintaining those links. However, Mohammed (1988) and Sampath (1993) are among those who have perceived a decline in the importance of cultural connections with the ancestral homeland as young Indo-Trinidadians are, they have argued, increasingly influenced by mainstream Trinidadian “creole” culture and even U.S. media and culture. Whatever its true state, Indo-Trinidadian cultural identity has clearly been subject to competing forces of maintenance and assimilation throughout its history (Roopnarine, 2009; Samaroo, 1987).
The descendants of indentured laborers from India in Trinidad might be thought of as a “primary” diaspora–what Ramnarine (2011, p. 143) calls the “old Indian diaspora.” However, many of their descendants have subsequently spread from Trinidad and Tobago to other countries across the world, thus forming what might
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be termed a “secondary diaspora.” For Ramnarine (2011, p. 143), modern media permeate the cultural fabric of these groups and reflect their embedded global histories:
Contemporary creative practices circulate through diasporic networks. They cir- culate through film industries, Internet, and media technologies, festivals, cultural tours, and creative exchanges. Such circulations are modern examples of the kinds of creative practices that were being shaped, as far as is indicated in the historical and ethnographic record, during the period of indentureship (the system of contracted labor) 1838–1917, when Indians migrated to the Caribbean, Fiji, and Mauritius to maintain the British Empire’s sugar plantation production.
Building on Ramnarine’s notion of the interchange of creative practices and delving somewhat further into the entrenchment of historical global forces in modern global connections, the present study examines contributions to the Facebook pages of Indo-Trinidadian radio stations from among domestic listeners and persons in the Indo-Trinidadian secondary diaspora, concentrated in the United States and Canada. While Trinidadian Indian radio stations broadcast terrestrially to their domestic audiences, Internet streams of their broadcasts allow members of the secondary diaspora to listen to the very same content. This simultaneous presence at home and abroad may play some role in prompting and fostering identity claims as Miller and Slater (2000) have suggested and may contribute to self-construction (or “imagi- nation”) of identities not only in the sense that Anderson (1983) and Sollors (1987) have articulated, but also in the oppositional, negotiated, and emergent sense suggested in the work of Hall (1997).
The Emergence of Indian Radio in Trinidad
In pre-independence Trinidad and Tobago, colonial authorities exercised strict control over publishing and broadcasting. The post-independence government (con- trolled by the same political party for 18 years) continued this tradition. During an attempted coup d’état in 1990 insurgents took control of the few media resources as part of their attack on the capital. Soon after the insurgency was put down, the government acted quickly to liberalize the local media. As new radio and television stations were licensed and launched, Trinidad and Tobago saw the advent of Indian- format radio in which small niche radio stations play music particularly aimed at the Indo-Trinidadian community (Mohammed & Svenkerud, 1988; Mohammed & Thombre, 2014). Since the majority of the population of Indian descent lives in the larger of the two islands (Trinidad) this phenomenon has been restricted to Trinidad with little economic incentive to position such stations for audiences in Tobago.
Indian radio started in Trinidad on July 5, 1993, when the first Indian-oriented station, FM 103, went on the air with Indian music, news, announcements, and educational material (Mohammed & Svenkerud, 1988). Commercial success led to
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the establishment of other such radio stations and the conversion of some already operating radio stations into Indian-format radio.
Indian-format radio gained market share, earned advertising revenues and listener- ship, and thus became an important part of Trinidad’s mass media (Mohammed & Svenkerud, 1988). The advertising base of the radio stations has grown since 1993 but the country’s small media market has grown increasingly fragmented. A number of these local radio stations, perceiving interest from diaspora communities in U.S. and Canadian metropolitan centers, began to stream their content on the Internet by early 2000.
This development led to exploration of the possibilities of global reach for local programming. A prior study of Trinidad’s Indian radio content (Mohammed & Thombre, 2014), for example, noted that material sampled in 2002 included a seg- ment in which two hosts ran the program simultaneously from Trinidad and New York, playing music and taking requests from both sites. Additionally, the sampled material included announcers indicating that they had received feedback from persons abroad following their station’s coverage of an important local news event.
Prior to the popularization of digital, globally interconnected, “new media” scho- lars involved in variants of diaspora studies documented the roles of traditional mass media such as radio and television in the acculturation and maintenance dynamics of migrant or ethnic community members removed from their native cultures.
Subervi-Velez (1986, p. 84), for example, noted that “mass media are important factors in ethnics’ diversity and change” while Jeffres (2000, p. 522) found that: “ethnic media appear to act as vehicles that help ethnics retain attachment to their culture over time.”
As scholars studied these media, important theoretical developments also emerged with regard to conceptualizations of groups and identities with questions being raised about the very nature and definition of diaspora (Anthias, 1998; Vertovec, 1997) and influences from areas such as postmodernism and cultural studies inform- ing new perspectives (Budarick, 2014). Among these emerging perspectives was Anderson’s (1983) important notion of “imagined communities,” constituted in terms of shared imaginations of heritage, belonging, and social struggles for voice and power, rather than necessarily being simply defined by geographical boundaries or common histories.
In Anderson’s “imagined communities” the members of a community may forge common ideas and shared memories though they have never met one another, and mediated communications constitute an important component of the processes of sharing and imagination that give rise to common identity and notions of group belonging (Anderson, 1983; Anderson, 2005; Anderson & Kligman, 1992; Van Gorp & Smets, 2015). Van Gorp and Smets (2015, p. 72) have more directly argued that “diasporic identities are ‘imagined,’ and diasporas constitute ‘imagined communities’ in which the sense of belonging is socially constructed on the basis of an imagined
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and symbolic common origin and mythic past.” They have cited, as well, the importance of shared and constructed memory in the fostering of (imaginings of) cultural belonging.
Similarly Sollors (1987; 1989) has argued that even closely held notions of ethnicity are often the product of group imaginations and creativity, leading to “ethnogenesis” or group identity creation fostered by communications and social power struggles. These evolutions away from ethnic essentialisms cannot be too neatly separated from the broader influence of thinkers such as Foucault (1977) and Gramsci (1929/1971), who influentially argued that the modern self and identity can be defined in terms of social power relationships.
With the advent and public adoption of globally interconnected digital technologies and their potential for creating non-geographic communities, early scholarly work focused on theoretical examinations of virtual communities (Rhinegold, 1993), while later investigations have focused on myriad aspects of the impact of new technologies, including the potential and actual contributions to creating and maintaining cultural identities among geographically separated communities (Adams-Parham, 2004; Georgiou, 2006; Hiller & Franz, 2004; Horst, 2010; Mohammed & Thombre, 2011). Miller and Slater (2000, p. 6) have even argued that “modern nations might be thought of as ‘imagined’ or virtual communities,” dependent on the capacity of media to “reflect a singular imaginary back to a dispersed or divided people.” They have argued that “this is particularly apt in the case of Trinidad, which has had to imagine national and cultural identity across a complex ethnic mix and a geographical dispersion across the globe.” (p. 6). Kavoura (2014) also makes the specific connection between Anderson’s imagined communities and the role of social media in developing and maintaining shared identities among people who may have never met.
More recently, several studies have examined globally connected “new” media forms and their uses by diasporic communities including (among many others) Haitian, Greek, Jamaican, and Trinidadian communities (Adams-Parham, 2004; Georgiou, 2006; Horst, 2010; Mohammed, 2012; Mohammed & Thombre, 2011). There has, however, been little or no attention paid to the changing and emerging roles of media such as radio and newspapers that have been transformed by the Internet from local to international media. The combination of ethnic media and the international reach of the Internet (as manifest in globally accessible Indian radio from Trinidad) raise important questions for communicators and sociologists.
These modern media forms themselves are not easily classified as ethnic or minority media as examined in early studies (e.g., Park, 1922). They may today be simply the operating commercial media of the home country being consumed by diasporic groups who themselves may not fit the traditional immigrant mold–travel- ing back and forth and maintaining links with several different locations. Such complications have in turn forced studies of these media and their audiences to develop broader foci today in areas such as transnational studies and cultural studies (Georgiou, 2006; Van Gorp & Smets, 2015).
In the present analysis, we are particularly interested in Anderson’s (1983) broader notion of imagined communities as we examine a particular artifact of media use in the
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context of two diasporas—one primary and the other secondary—with a view to how these imagined communities use such media. These media are simultaneously local and global, their users domestic and diasporic, and their use transnational at several levels. Additionally, we refer to Miller and Slater’s (2000) exposition of the virtual imagined community enhanced by the global reach of digital networked technologies. We also refer to their proposition of the “singular imaginary” reflected back to a dispersed or divided people and their notion of “national and cultural identity” in a global context with reference to the audience for Indian Radio originating in Trinidad.
There is a paucity of research on the specific issue of Indian format radio in Trinidad and even less on the implications of streaming such content on the Internet. The content of Indian-format radio in Trinidad reflects both domestic and international influences as the stations embody local cultural expression and influ- ences from the Indian subcontinent. Prior research (Mohammed & Svenkerud, 1998; Mohammed & Thombre, 2014) has indicated an emphasis on social uses of these media particularly for sending song requests and greetings to family members and friends both locally and internationally, building community ties at home and abroad and contributing to what Miller and Slater (2000) termed the “singular imaginary.” Thus this study attempts to quantify the usage of these stations as manifest in their social media posts and poses research question one as follows:
RQ1: How do domestic listeners of Indian radio from Trinidad differ from foreign listeners of Indian radio from Trinidad in their use of the radio content and the social media associated with them?
Contemporary research (Fursich & Robins, 2002; Halavais, 2000; Mohammed, 2004) has suggested that, while globalized media technologies such as Internet streaming may enable global reach, they are more likely to be used as tools of domestic identity and culture, often by locals rather than global diasporas. The modern Indo-Trinidadian community comprises a primary diaspora made up of the descendants of Indian indentured laborers living in Trinidad and the Indo- Trinidadian secondary diaspora spread through modern migration throughout North America and elsewhere. As both these groups engage with Trinidad’s Indian radio stations, it becomes possible to inquire into the identity claims associated with this media content and the social practice of its use. We are interested, as well, in how these groups might differ in their expressions of imagined community, or national or group identity claims as envisioned in the work of Anderson (1983) and Miller and Slater (2000). Our study thus poses research question two as follows:
RQ2: How do domestic listeners of Indian radio from Trinidad and foreign listeners of Indian radio from Trinidad differ in their use of markers of ethnic identity?
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In order to pursue answers to these research questions, we examined the contents of Facebook users posting messages to the Facebook pages of Trinidad Indian radio stations. These users included both domestic and foreign listener-posters. This use of Facebook posts allowed us to capture comments from users in Trinidad and from widely dispersed locations in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere. Such data collection would otherwise be extremely costly and time- consuming. Additionally, since these posts were publicly available, they constituted the visible online Facebook presence of these stations and candid views of listeners rather than isolated or contrived responses to survey or interview questions. None of the stations articulated posting policies or indicated that their Facebook feeds were moderated in any way at the time of data collection.
The researchers attempted to sample the most recent 100 posts on the Facebook pages of each of the six stations that hosted a Facebook page and allowed listeners to post. Some of these, particularly the older stations, are known by their frequency assignments (sometimes with the addition of a tagline) while newer ones have tended to brand themselves with titles. The stations considered here are 90.5 FM,“Radio Shakti” (97.5 FM), “Radio Jaagriti” (102.7 FM), 103 FM, “Sangeet” (106.1 FM), and “Aakash Vani” (106.5 FM). One station, Win Radio Masala (101.1 FM), did not allow listeners to post to their Facebook page and was thus excluded from the sampling process (none of the other stations with a Facebook presence indicated any explicit policy governing post acceptability or moderation of posts). Two of the stations, Radio Shakti and Aakash Vani both had less than 100 posts on their pages at the time of coding, which may have been attributable to some combination of station age, time since launching their pages, and emphasis on this particular form of social media in their programming and marketing. This sampling strategy yielded a total of 568 posts from the six stations sampled.
It should be noted that during the data collection, posts were encountered ranging from early 2010 to January 2014. The researchers initially conducted a pilot exercise in data collection during the period October to November 2013 to evaluate the feasibility of the proposed data collection approach. Then, we collected the final data set used here in January 2014.
Coding. The coding process attempted to capture data on several dimensions of the Facebook posts. We developed and tested several combinations of coding items on small samples of the material before settling on a range of headings. The categories were revised several times and items dropped or added as the data suggested them. Among the key items initially coded were:
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1. Station 2. Poster location 3. Message or greeting to station/announcer 4. Comment/inquiry on programming/station 5. Comment/inquiry on Internet stream 6. Competition response 7. Comment on Trinidad/Tobago news/current issue/event 8. Comment on foreign news/current issue/event 9. Personal nostalgia/memories 10. Comment on diaspora experience 11. Request/individual greeting 12. Request/general greeting 13. Greeting destination (domestic, foreign) 14. Self-request
In addition to the original items above, we adopted and adapted an empirical approach commonly used to evaluate ethnic identity in diaspora communities, the Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure (MEIM) (Phinney, 1992) and its revised version (MEIM-R) (Phinney & Ong, 2007) to further investigate the content of the posts sampled in the present study. The key elements of the measure include concerns about:
1. Commitment and attachment 2. Exploration (e.g., reading, conversation, cultural practices, events) 3. Ethnic behaviors (e.g., language, food or group association) 4. Evaluation and ingroup attitude (sense of group belonging) 5. Values and beliefs (expressions of religious or other value systems) 6. Importance and salience (attributing greater importance to ethnicity) 7. Relationships between ethnic and national identity
We coded for all the items associated with the MEIM but after coding, we excluded those items that registered less than 5% of responses and summed the remaining items to yield a MEIM score with a range from 0 to 4 with the average score being 0.59 and a standard deviation of 0.81 (M = .59, SD = .81) indicating a low incidence of the scale items and a wide range of responses. The scoring items included Exploration, Ethnic behaviors, In-group attitudes, and Values and beliefs.
In order to establish intercoder reliability we first used undergraduate coders from an American university. After training and several rounds of practice coding, we determined that the challenges of cultural and geographical references combined with local dialect and language use were barriers to obtaining reliable results with these coders. We therefore switched to determining intercoder reliability through a
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Table 1 Intercoder Reliability for Discretionary Items
Coding item Krippendorf’s Alpha
Message or greeting to station/announcer 0.92 Comment/inquiry on programming/station 0.95 Comment/inquiry on Internet stream 0.96 Competition response 1.0 Comment on Trinidad/Tobago news/current issue/event 0.96 Diaspora identification 0.92 Request/individual greeting 1.0 Request/general greeting 0.79 Spiritual or inspirational message 0.88 Exploration 0.74 Ethnic behaviors 0.96 In-group attitudes 0.68 Values and beliefs 0.79
comparison of codings by one author and a Master’s level graduate from Trinidad and Tobago. Both coders were familiar with the cultural and linguistic context of the content. We conducted training and several rounds of practice coding before obtain- ing Krippendorf’s Alpha figures for intercoder reliability on discretionary items as indicated in Table 1. The remaining discrepancies were resolved by negotiation.
RQ1 asked: “How do domestic listeners of Indian radio from Trinidad differ from foreign listeners of Indian radio from Trinidad and Tobago in their use of the radio content and the social media associated with them?” Listener-poster location was determined (where available) from the contents of the messages (e.g., “Greetings from New York”) and publicly visible Facebook location tags and indicators associated with the posts. Posters from Trinidad accounted for 290 (51.1%) of the cases analyzed while foreign posters accounted for 191 (33.6%) of cases. In 87 instances (15.3%) poster location could not be determined. Among those cases where location could be determined the difference between the numbers of Trinidad posters and foreign contributors was significantly greater than could be expected by chance (χ2[1, N = 481] = 20.4, p < .001). The most common source of foreign posters was the United States, with 105 contributions (18.5% of total posts) while 43 posts (7.6% of total posts) were from Canada, and the remaining 43 from a variety of locations including 10 (1.7% of total posts) from the U.K., 7 (1.2% of total posts) from Jamaica, 6 (1.1% of total posts) from India, and smaller numbers from other places including Guyana, the United Arab Emirates, Papua New Guinea, and Nigeria. Mohammed and Thombre/TRINIDAD INDIAN RADIO 121 In cases where posters’ locations could be determined and users expressed greetings to the station and its staff (n = 91), Trinidad-based listeners were more frequently represented (n = 58) than their foreign counterparts (n =33) in keeping with the greater numbers of domestic posters overall. However, the domestic and foreign posters did not differ significantly in this practice (χ2[1, N = 91] = 0.45, p = .5) when we considered the relative proportions of these two groups in the broader sample. A substantial proportion (44.4%) of the sampled posts included comments or inquiries regarding the station or its programming. Among those posters whose location could be determined and who commented or inquired about the station (assuming equal distributions of the categories), Trinidad-based listeners and their foreign counterparts did not differ significantly (χ2[1, N = 218] = 0.073, p = .786) from chance in terms of their propensity to make such comments or inquiries. Even when the overall proportions of domestic versus foreign posters overall was taken into consideration, the observed distribution of domestic versus foreign posters was still not significantly different from chance (χ2[1, N = 218] = .45, p = .51). Since all foreign listeners access these radio stations solely through Internet streams while domestic listeners also have access to widespread radio coverage, it stands to reason that foreign listener posters would be more likely to comment on or inquire about the stations’ Internet streams. The observed proportions bear out this expectation as 47 foreign posters inquired or commented on the Internet stream compared to 8 domestic (χ2[1, N = 55] = 27.7, p < .001). Even when the relative proportions of observed domestic and foreign posters was considered, the observed distribution was significantly different from chance (χ2[1, N = 55] = 46.3, p < .001). The stations sampled ran a variety of competitions including sponsored and ad hoc challenges to audience members that encouraged calls, texts, and Facebook posts in response. A total of 33 competition response posts were observed in the sample and the domestic/foreign distribution was heavily biased in terms of domestic posters (n = 27) compared to foreign posters (n = 6) (χ2[1, N = 33] = 13.4, p < .001) even when the overall proportions of each were considered (χ2[1, N = 33] = 6.1, p = .013). The present sample included 44 instances of comments on Trinidad and Tobago domestic news events or current affairs with 37 of these being from domestic posters and 7 from foreign posters (χ2[1, N = 44] = 20.5, p < .001). When we adjusted the categories to reflect the proportions of domestic to foreign posters overall the distribution remained significantly different from chance (χ2[1, N = 44] = 10.2, p = .001). Comments on foreign news stories, while initially coded, were dropped due to low incidence. A total of 49 posters made reference to the diaspora, migrant, or foreign experi- ences. All were foreign-based posters and all referred to their diasporic condition as being from Trinidad and Tobago but living in North America or some other 122 Journal of Radio & Audio Media/May 2017 location. Such references included comments such as “The music makes me feel like I am back home. . .” Requests Previous research suggests that song requests and greetings are a major component of audience engagement for Trinidad-based Indian format radio stations. While the relative importance of this practice has varied across different studies, the present sample showed 30.3% of posts (n = 172) overall including a request or greeting component comprising 124 (21.8% of total posts) song requests or greetings to specific persons, 26 (4.6% of total posts) general greetings and 36 self-requests (6.3% of total posts). When adjusted for the overall proportions of domestic and foreign posters in the sample, the distribution of posters who engaged in greeting or requests from Trinidad and Tobago (n = 89) and those from abroad (n = 60) did not differ significantly from chance (χ2[1, N = 149] = .02, p = .88), suggesting that domestic and foreign posters were equally likely to use the radio stations for these purposes. Spiritual or Inspirations Messages The sample included 59 instances (10.4% of total posts) of users expressing religious or inspirational sentiments. The majority of these sentiments (n = 31) were classified as secular (e.g., “May all your dreams come true”) while the second most frequent category (n = 21) were Hindu (e.g., “Shubh Divali”). From among the cases where location could be determined and using expected proportions of domestic to foreign posters from the overall sample, analysis showed that the distribution of domestic and foreign posters did not differ significantly from chance (χ2[1, N = 51] = 3.1, p = .08), suggesting that the two groups observed were equally likely to engage in this posting behavior. MEIM RQ2 asked, “How do domestic listeners of Indian radio from Trinidad and foreign listeners of Indian radio from Trinidad differ in their use of markers of ethnic identity?” An independent samples t-test showed that the difference in MEIM scores between domestic posters (n = 290, M = 0.51, SD = 0.79) and foreign posters (n = 191, M = 0.69, SD = 0.83) were statistically significant, t(479) = −2.23, p =.022. The results of this t-test demonstrate that, beyond what one might expect by chance, foreign listeners on average showed higher scores on the ethnic identity measure than listeners in Trinidad. This suggests a greater identity component to the engagement with Trinidadian Indian radio among diaspora listeners than local audiences. Mohammed and Thombre/TRINIDAD INDIAN RADIO 123 Discussion The significantly greater participation of domestic (Trinidad) posters online is consistent with prior research that demonstrates a preponderance of local use even when the medium is inherently global in scope and reach (Halavais, 2000; Mohammed, 2012). As might be expected, the foreign posters hailed primarily from metropolitan centers of North America where there are concentrations of Indo-Trinidadian diaspora members. Somewhat interesting were the small numbers of posters from other Caribbean territories such as Guyana where listeners also have access to Indian music programming. A few posters in places such as the United Arab Emirates appeared to be Indian expatriates who were surprised to find streams of Indian music originating in as obscure a location as the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, otherwise known to them only as part of the West Indian cricket team. Other posts from places like Papua New Guinea appeared to be randomly misplaced (i.e., people thinking they were posting somewhere else) or robotic posts with generic or spam-like messages). Domestic listeners enjoy greater access to the radio hosts since they are more likely to encounter these personalities at events and can reach the stations by local phone call. However, greetings to (beyond normal salutations) and conversations with the hosts were equally likely to emanate from foreign as from domestic posters. This may indicate that the para-social interactions are no longer limited by proximity when facilitated as they are through a globally connected medium. The finding may also indicate that posters to Facebook are willing (without regard to their location) to interact with hosts although the study does not allow a comparison of this propensity among the larger listenership. While the two groups (foreign and domestic) were about equally likely to inquire about the stations or their programming, they differed significantly when the specific issue of the Internet stream arose, in which case foreign posters were significantly more likely to make inquiries. This is a relatively predictable finding since the realities of listenership still favor terrestrial traditional radio-wave reception in most of Trinidad and Tobago and Internet-based listening via computer or smartphone elsewhere. The social-media presence of Trinidad Indian radio stations is one part of an array of audience interaction strategies that these media operations employ. From hosted events both domestic and foreign, to promotions of stage shows featuring visiting and local artists, these radio stations have developed multifaceted strategies that involve their audiences. Here again, domestic audience members would be expected to dominate participation with cheaper and easier access to the stations for calls and texts. However, they also dominated audience competition participation on Facebook. This may be due to several factors such as possible greater listening time among the domestic audiences and greater exposure to local events and promotions on which the competitions may be based. 124 Journal of Radio & Audio Media/May 2017 Comments on news and current affairs represented a fairly limited component of the total content although news is a staple (to greater or lesser degrees) of all the stations’ programming with several including live local events (such as election campaign speeches) and panel discussions with call-in components. Here again, domestic participants dominated the content of Facebook posts and discussed domestic issues. Not only did foreign posters not comment very much on local issues, but no one commented very much on foreign news or issues. Taken together, these all suggest a strongly local focus to Trinidad Indian radio as observed in the Facebook posts of its users. This is despite the obvious connections with (foreign) Indian media content and suggests that the audiences for this material may address Indian content as a subset of their local sentiments rather than as imported foreign matter. This may eflect the reality that these radio stations are primarily local stations that stream to an international audience with little adjustment of content. However, this may also reflect something of Miller and Slater’s “singular imaginary” as pro- gramming with a local focus is consumed by those abroad. At both the level of the primary and secondary diaspora (and simultaneously), the content of these Indian- format radio stations and the activities of listeners online appear to provide active engagement with Indian-origin and Trinidad-based cultural and social expression. On the one hand, this may be seen as a “singular imaginary” that binds the primary and secondary Indo-Trinidadian diaspora. However, it may also be seen as proble- matic to that singular imaginary since Indian media in Trinidad have been criticized for their emphasis on particular ethnic tradition that may detract from a broader interethnic nationalism. The association of Trinidad Indian radio content with tradition or nostalgia did not materialize in any substantial way among either foreign or domestic posters, and did not differ between the two groups. This nostalgia for the homeland or a longing for tradition is an important component of Anderson’s imagined community and could have been demonstrated in the present content as nostalgia for Trinidad or nostalgia for Indian heritage and tradition. Yet, if there is a component of nostalgia among Indo-Trinidadians in consuming Indian media, it is not often expressed in this particular social media platform. A contributing factor to this finding may be a reversal of the traditional role of Indian music on the radio in Trinidad. Prior to liberalization, Indian content was limited to short segments of about 15 minutes on weekday evenings and an hour or two on Sundays (Mohammed & Svenkerud, 1998). These short segments often featured old standards and reinforced nostalgia rather than introduced new music. This situation has changed radically with Indian-format stations competing with each other to air the newest releases from the latest Hindi films or even the latest mash-up of local beats with Hindi songs (Mohammed & Thombre, 2014). The present findings suggest that (at least among the social media participants in our sample) the notion of a diaspora identification emerges only among foreign listeners to Trinidad Indian radio stations. The only references to diaspora conditions or experiences (which did not even specifically require the use of the term “dia- spora”) came from foreign-based posters—indicating that this was not a primary Mohammed and Thombre/TRINIDAD INDIAN RADIO 125 concern for domestic posters, even though these radio stations have themselves been shown to be a source of connection between foreign and domestic portions of extended families (Mohammed & Thombre, 2014). This finding is consistent with both Anderson (1983, 2005) and Sollors (1987), who have found enhanced overt national identification frequently emerging among the culturally displaced. There were very few explicit references to India or the primary ancestral diasporic connection to India despite the nature of the programming. Such references came in bits of news about Bollywood or its stars or in the implicit Indian connections of Hindu culture and religion which often arose. Generally such references were not coded as diasporic, migrant, or foreign since the posters did not explicitly express them in those terms, referring instead to domestic (Trinidad) practices. As was quite typical, one poster sought advice on ritual puja offerings, asking, in part, “What do I do with the fruits after offering” but made no reference to historical connections with India, the historical connections of the Hindu ritual or the diasporic condition of the practitioners. The fact that, in the present sample, only the new or secondary diaspora was explicitly mentioned, and only by those in the secondary diaspora strongly suggests that sampled listeners/posters in Trinidad did not identify themselves as being part of a diaspora. From this, and building on Ramnarine’s (2011) notion of the historical embedding of global forces in modern cultural expression, we argue that the “old” or “primary” diaspora has, in some measure, reduced its identification as a diaspora, subsuming the historical global influences and connections into their modern iden- tities as “Indo-Trinidadian” and “Trinibagonian.” At the same time, the equal pro- pensities of primary and secondary diaspora to engage in music request and inspirational message activities suggest continuing similarities in the cultural path- ways and practices between the two groups. Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure (MEIM) The statistically significant difference observed in MEIM scores suggested that foreign posters were more likely to display markers of ethnic identity in their posts. This finding further emphasizes the notion that members of the secondary diaspora, made up of more recent migrants from Trinidad and Tobago to metropolitan centers of North America and elsewhere, were more likely to exhibit markers of ethnic identity than members of the “old” or “primary” Indo-Trinidadian diaspora. This finding may reflect the differing sensibilities of first or second generation settlers into the societies such as North America where they are minorities compared to their relatives and friends who are settled in Trinidad and Tobago where they enjoy a shared majority status, considerable political power, and a now-established history and identity. Yet it may also indicate that the global historical forces that shaped the Indo-Trinidadian experience may be so embedded into their cultural experience as to become less visible and explicit. The influences are not, however, completely integrated or diluted. The old or primary diaspora does indicate some level of ethnic identity concern, suggesting that 126 Journal of Radio & Audio Media/May 2017 some Indo-Trinidadians—at least among those who engage with Indian Radio sta- tions and post to their Facebook pages—engage in dynamic processes of identity negotiation (Budarick, 2014; Hall, 1990; Hiller & Franz, 2004; Kavoura, 2014) that balance global historical realities with modern media choices and pathways. They may do this while not specifically identifying themselves as part of a diaspora. The listener to Trinidad’s Indian radio stations is subject to the cultural realities of an ancestral connection with India and the negotiated identities of the Indo- Trinidadian (including colonial politics and more recent social and political strug- gles). That person also simultaneously has access to a wide range of cultural influences that may include North American television, global Internet content, Bollywood films on disc, Trinidad’s soca music, Jamaican reggae, and any number of hybrid forms including mixes and mash ups of various forms. As a small nation in a globalized environment, Trinidad and Tobago enjoys (or suffers from) a tremen- dous variety of influences. These include modern global media forces and histories of global cultural forces. The interplay of modern and embedded globalisms presents identity challenges and opportunities that require further investigation due to their important political and social ramifications. To further complicate the situation, increased contact between Trinidad and Tobago and India has created the potential for cultural flows from the old diaspora back to India, a situation that, as Ramnarine (2011) notes, has already begun. Taken together, these findings support efforts to further develop concepts of diaspora with greater emphasis on transnational groups with multiple fluid and intersecting cultural identities (Budarick, 2014), engaged from multiple locations through global information technologies and evolving over time into diverse ima- gined communities. The present work also supports the idea that mass media such as radio, globalized into internationally accessible forms, can provide opportunities for cultural engagement operating simultaneously as local and global. Among those long-settled in a new homeland, these media may form part of the socio-political struggle for identity and voice (Foucault, 2003; Hall, 1990). Combined with social media, these globalized mass media provide those in the secondary diaspora enhanced opportunities to engage in processes of belonging and identity in which they may imagine and re-imagine their communities and themselves. Such identity processes and the complexities of mediated transnational diasporic processes, as both historically embedded and dynamically constituted, may also require further movement away from notions of cultural identity as fixed towards what Hall (1990) has described as constitutive and negotiated. Limitations and Future Research Content analysis in its traditional forms (examining material such as television and radio programs, newspaper, and magazines) often failed to capture audience senti- ments except in rare cases where opinion pages or call-in programs or letters were analyzed. In the present exercise, by focusing on listener posts we were able to Mohammed and Thombre/TRINIDAD INDIAN RADIO 127 capture audience sentiments from diverse locations. However, this approach approx- imates audience views through their social media posts with no chance of probing, follow-up, and cross-checks as might be pursued in either quantitative or qualitative primary investigations involving direct interaction. Though the comments coded here may lack the depth of qualitative interviews or the scope of surveys, they do have the rare quality of being real-world, unforced, and candid. This same quality has meant that most of the content has had to be pigeon- holed into the analytical categories developed in the research. These categories were not pre-determined or forced onto the data, but emerged from examination of the posts as well as consideration of prior research and the issues raised therein. Still, the categories are external to the data and to the posters. The codings are merely interpretations of what the posters themselves may have meant and therefore subject to bias and error in their assignment despite the use of detailed criteria and multiple coders. This is particularly true of the MEIM items which were designed for use in multiple item survey questions in which one might embed various cross- checks for deception, consistency, and reliability. Without these checks and con- sidering both the alpha coefficients of the intercoder figures and the low incidence of these coding items, we suggest caution in drawing too firm of conclusions from that portion of the analysis pending further investigation of these phenomena. Among the imperatives arising from the present inquiry is a need to further investigate the particular forms of global mélange represented by the hybrid forms in the programming of these stations. 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Source:Shaheed Nick Mohammed & Avinash Thombre (2017) An Investigation of User Comments on Facebook Pages of Trinidad and Tobago’s Indian Music Format Radio Stations, Journal of Radio & Audio Media, 24:1, 111-129, DOI: 10.1080/19376529.2016.1252374
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